What to Wear Over a Cocktail Dress (Coats and Wraps)

Continuing our little series on outerwear, today I thought we’d talk about what to wear over a cocktail dress. I’ve had some questions about this, and I figured this is a good time to address the topic since we’re heading into events season. Fall weddings are a big thing, of course, and soon we’ll be attending holiday parties! (I know, it’s hard to believe.)

What to Wear with a Cocktail Dress: 5 Coats and Wraps for your Winter Party Dress

For this post, I’m going to be addressing coats and wraps that you intend to take off at your event. Toppers to wear with a cocktail dress are a whole different topic because they really have to go with the dress you’re wearing. Coats/jackets/wraps that you will remove when you get to your event give you a little more leeway, but you still want to look appropriate for the formality of the event. Throwing your casual parka on over an evening dress simply won’t do, even if you do plan to remove it as soon as you walk in the door.

Here are some good options:

#1. Wool Dress Coat

This type of coat will probably work over just about anything, with the exception of a floor-length ball gown. The nice thing about these coats is you can also wear them for other events — church, work, dinner out, or whenever you want a polished, dressed-up coat that isn’t formal. They’re obviously better for colder climates; if you live further south, you may not need a coat this warm. In that case, a dressy trench coat could work.

Ideally the coat would be in a more formal color (black, grey, burgundy, or winter white — for some reason camel doesn’t seem to do it for me) but don’t rule out a fun color. Red is festive for the holidays. I like the more feminine coats with a fitted silhouette, but the cocoon coats are trending and can work too.

#2. Cape/Shawl

These are fun and a little more dressy than a regular wool coat, but you can wear them for other occasions as well. You could totally wear one out to dinner with jeans and heels for a fun juxtaposition.

Unfortunately there are very few under $500. I KNOW. Most are like $1500, no joke — even at Macy’s. It’s a bummer because I like this idea a lot. Feel free to look around for more reasonable price tags, and let us know if you find anything good.

#3. Faux Fur Shrug or Bolero

If you’re attending a more formal event, a fur or faux fur bolero is sophisticated and elegant. If you attend a few semi-formal events a year, it might be worth in investing in one. I wouldn’t buy one for a one-time occasion unless it was super important to me.

#4. Leather Jacket

Pistola Isabel Faux Leather Moto Jacket

Don’t rule out a leather jacket; I saw a ton of these at the last cocktail party I attended. Granted, it was a fashion blogger conference, but if you want something fashion forward, throw a leather jacket on over your cocktail dress. You can see an example of that look HERE.

#5. Blazer/Bomber Jacket

Okay so I said I was mainly addressing outerwear, and I’ve gone more into outfit accessories. There are only so many types of coats, ya know? Any-who. A blazer can look too businessy, but if you get one that is velvet or satiny or something with sequins, it can be smashing over a party dress. Of course, it has to work with the dress.

I feel like I’m missing something here. There’s always a pashmina, but again, that’s something I see as accessorizing the dress. Any other ideas? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

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